Just moments after winning his fourth consecutive Sports Emmy for outstanding play-by-play personality— beating out Bob Costas, Verne Lundquist, Al Michaels and Jim Nantz— NBC Sports’ Mike “Doc” Emrick spoke with Awful Announcing about his achievements, his award-winning broadcast style and why he so greatly respects the postseason playoff players whose games he calls.
Shortly after receiving his award, Emrick was catching a train from New York City to Washington, D.C, where he’ll be calling Game 7 of the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins series tonight on NBCSN alongside Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire.
Note: The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How many is that for you in this category?
I think it’s four? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a way to find out.
What does it mean to be respected by your peers like that?
It means a lot to wind up with my name next to the other four, because fortunately I know all four of them, and I just like being around all four of them. And to be in that vicinity, in that card, in that program, that’s just great with me. And the fact that I wind up with one of these is shocking.
Even broadcasters just remark on your play-by-play style and how you get all your adjectives in, and the way your language is when you announce these games. How did you do that, and how far back does that go?
I don’t know. Years ago when I was first starting to learn this, somebody in Dayton, Ohio told me that if you could come up with a different way to describe the many things that happen in hockey, then you won’t drive people nuts.
And you know there are dump-ins from center ice all the time, but if you say “dumped in” every time, you’ll drive people crazy. So [I] try to come up with different ways to do it. I guess that’s what I do, but it’s not conspiratorial. I don’t try to think of different ways and then check them off, it’s just how I talk. My dogs don’t understand me a lot. I try to keep it simple for them, and I try to keep it simple for the viewer, too. But sometimes it doesn’t work out.
This must be a nice break for you, with all the games you’ve been calling.
Well, I have to go to a train to get myself to Washington yet tonight, because I think not going to a morning skate— and there’s a risk in taking a plane in the morning because sometimes, as I found out today with a three-and-a-half hour delay, planes don’t make it— so I’m going by train tonight to make sure I get to Washington for a Game 7.
Those are special. They’re special for the viewer, and so I want to make sure I get there so that I learn as much as I can, but then not get it all in, because Game 7s usually take care of themselves.
What’s stood out to you from the playoffs so far?
The same thing that stands out every time, is how these guys do what they do every other night and still come back for more. And then whoever wins [Wednesday] tomorrow night is only halfway there. And they’re gladiators, and it’s not about the money, because there isn’t a lot of money at the end of this. They’ve already been paid for the year.
But they get their name on a trophy, and that’ll be with them forever. It’s the name their parents gave them. And they won’t be able to keep it. They don’t get the trophy to take, they get it for a day. That’s nice. They get a ring that’s way too big to wear. I’ve talked to guys that get the Stanley Cup ring and they’ve worn it once in five years. Why? Because it’s just too big. But they’ve got it.
And people like myself do know what it takes to earn it, but I didn’t have to sweat and I didn’t have to get my knees shot up to go out and play. They do. And that’s why I have an admiration for the guys that play this sport.
And it seems like the Academy for you and your work.
It’s nice of them to give me one of these to take home. And it’s about the size of our little dogs, so I’m sure they’ll sniff it over and then they’ll walk away and then they’ll ask if there are treats. That’s the way dogs are.